June 9, 2017
See me, feel me, hear me
With so much electronic test equipment available that’s affordable and easy to use it’s easy to forget the fantastic ability of us e-engineers to interact with (faulty) electronics using just one’s senses and no equipment or apps at all.
I’m sure I am not alone in being able to smell out (literally) serious trouble in a circuit without access to a 6-digit ammeter with USB 3.0 and IoT connectivity. Even with the equipment switched off, certain parts that have run hot — and may be the cause of the trouble — produce a smell ever so light. Besides component failures, also be ready to identify your big fat design mistakes like the 1 ohm resistor where 1 k was required. Okay, it does help if the parts have signs of burning, scalding, glazing or micro explosion but the light smell alone should be strong enough especially if a part is in a well enclosed case which you open for the first time. Amps can be smelled, just as solder flux, hot pertinax, and dust.